Sunday, April 6, 2008

livin' on the eastside *makes an awkward "E" symbol with fingers of left hand*

so roughly more than a half a year ago i moved to east van. where the hip-est of hipsters live. you can live on main street (which is where hipsters now go to procreate) or you can live on cambie where it was once uber hipster-y to dwell. but the real deal on hipster-living is in east van baby, where commercial drive separates the hipster from the poser. for those who don't live in vancouver, this distinctions between the hipster-ness of neighbourhoods is lost on you. but for those who live in the "couve" (an appellation given by a visiting ontarian friend who would not cease and desist calling it that no matter how much i insisted that it sounded like a euphemism for vajayjays), neighbourhoods really mean something. because the thing is, in vancouver, you pick a neighbourhood and then you live and die by its friggin' greatness. wherever the individual vancouverite lives, it is the neighbourhood against which ALL other neighbourhoods pale in comparison. maybe this works similarly in other cities that insist on having way to many distinct and unique hoods. or maybe it is just because vancouverites have to be special no matter what form that specialness takes be it from their raw food diets, their insistence on climbing mountains for fun, or taking their equally unique and special dogs EVERYWHERE with them. i dunno. you decide.

so i moved from the westside to the eastside which is equivalent, to some, to moving from the beaches neighbourhood in toronto to scarborough (i would say the bad part of scarborough, but is there a good part? man, i'm a jerk). because the downtown eastside (dtes) is infamously known across canada as the WORST neighbourhood in canada, the eastside generally gets a bad rap, despite the vibrant community life that characterizes east van generally. i sympathize with the people that are fearful of the eastside because the dtes is perhaps the most unthinkable neighbourhood one could imagine - not because of crime or violence (despite widely held beliefs) but because of extreme grinding poverty and widespread addiction and mental illness - two things that invariably land people on the streets. when you live in pristine largely white and shockingly upwardly mobile neighbourhoods like kits and kerrisdale, the eastside begins about at granville street and characterizes everything thenceforth until you hit burnaby. so yeah, living on the eastside (no the dtes) means something very different, but perhaps more "real," than the tony neighbourhoods that make vancouver so desirable. but what is weird is that vancouver is a young city and so the neighbourhoods, like kitsilano for example, used to be a hippie enclave where you could live a beach bum kind of existence - not too different from the commercial drive neighbourhood of now where hippies gather to exchange patchouli tips and advice about how to keep dreds bug-free. so this brings me full circle back to hipsters - those pioneeering souls who are on the forefront of gentrification - the few, the brave, the musically-obsessed and fashionably-conscienced.

so when i was in cincinnati i roomed with an extremely articulate and intelligent woman who just happened to be ridiculously hilarious. during said stay, she made a joke about hipsters and then abruptly stopped laughing, fearing she had insulted me, whose questionable hipster-like status had not be fully articulated nor denied. i was like, "no dude, that was funny. i'm not a hipster. i mean i don't think i am. oh my god - am i?" i then evaluated the evidence: 1) we have recently purchased property in an up-and-coming neighbourhood. level of hipster-ness: HIGH. 2) i shop in little consignment stores and revel in the resultant questioning about where i got that shirt or those boots. level of hipster-ness: MEDIUM. 3) i recently cut my hair. i now have bangs. level of hipster-ness: OFF THE CHARTS. i had to face a scary truth. i might be a hipster. where did i go wrong?

after consulting the hipster handbook however, i was relieved to find out that while i might approximate certain hipster characteristics, i am not in fact a hipster. this is largely because i don't ride a bike, i have never even heard of the word "deck" (except as a wooden object that surrounds pools), and i do not have less than 2% body fat. also, i own and love my television, which in hipsterworld is equivalent to worshiping the devil. so there you have it. i'm not a hipster despite evidence to the contrary. so suck it.

one final note, while i may not be a hipster, i do believe that my wardrobe is misrecognized in my new neighbourhood as something i like to call "streetworker chic." however, i think the bangs are helping to remedy that. sweetass.


Shells said...

I think you are a new level of hipster...maybe a hipstar!?! ;)

jacks said...

shucks shells - i'll wear my new hipstar status with pride. mainly cause i like the attention.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laugh!

jacks said...

or, if you prefer, an "under smile." so dirty...i love it. also, no one is allowed to be anonymous on this blog so i am going to assume this is rach. you'll have to tell me if i'm right!

Dr. Beth said...

Being a Vancouverite who, by definition, compares my neighbourhood to all other Vancouver neighbourhoods, I am obliged to point out that you did not live on the westside, you lived in Kits. *I* live on the westside - where the average age is 72 years old (not counting us below ground dwellers who can't actually afford to live here, so we rent someone's basement) and everyone shops at Stong's. Trust me, you don't want to have lived on the westside.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to practiing making an awkward "W" symbol with the fingers on my left hand.

jacks said...

dr. beth! so glad to have you back on the commenting train. i've missed you. now, not to squibble, or squabble if you will, it is my duty to tell you that kits is actually a constitutive part of the "westside." it's big dude - and goes all the way to main. i had to invoke the expertise of t-bone the realtor for that one.

my westside wasn't much different than you describe, however, the 40+ year old rich women who surrounded me in their matching lulu gear were still procreating, making my demographic range considerably "younger." indeed, living on the westside certainly makes one tough - if tough means dodging old ladies at stongs for one's favourite coffee or going through the obstacle course that is baby carriages on 4th. yup, we know what is is like to live on the hard streets of the westside and we've lived to tell the tale. ;)